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  2005 Press Releases  

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Januari Smith
Phone: 1-217-558-1544, Cell: 1-217-725-8212

July 15, 2005

News About New State, Federal Drug Benefits for Seniors at Illinois Building during State Fair
"Senior Day" Set for Aug. 15

SPRINGFIELD – In a comprehensive new format this year, the Illinois State Fair will feature ten days of programs, materials and individual counseling to help seniors and people with disabilities learn about new prescription drug plans that begin Jan. 1, 2006.

"These new state and federal programs will have an important impact on the lives of most of the seniors and people with disabilities in our state," said Charles D. Johnson, director of the Illinois Department on Aging. "We are excited by the challenge to tell every family in Illinois about the changes in benefits at both the state and federal levels – and we are determined to meet that challenge."

His Departmentís plan, Johnson said, is to offer programs and materials with continuous help – at any level needed – in the Illinois Building at the State Fair in Springfield from Friday, Aug. 12, through Sunday, Aug. 21. A special feature will be private, computer-based counseling to ensure that people with Medicare and their families understand their options through the federal program and the new state program designed to fill the large gaps in support left by Medicare.

The state program, Illinois Cares Rx, combines benefits from SeniorCare and the pharmaceutical portion of Circuit Breaker, programs designed to help people with limited incomes pay the cost of prescription drugs. It will help fill the gaps in the new Medicare prescription plan that starts at the beginning of next year, and will help pay for the prescriptions for older and disabled people who do not qualify for Medicare. The program was signed into law by Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich last month.

In signing the legislation, Gov. Blagojevich noted, "The new Medicare law allows the states to step away from their commitment to seniors and people with disabilities. But in Illinois, we respect our elders and honor our commitment to them."

Medicare-eligible people may apply for the Illinois Cares Rx program in the Illinois Building if they bring necessary documentation, Johnson said. For more information call the Senior HelpLine, 1-800-252-8966 (Voice and TTY).

Materials about both state and federal programs are available at the Illinois Building. For more intensive help, families may make appointments for professional, private benefits counseling daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the air-conditioned building near the main gate.

In addition to the information blitz about drug benefits, the Department on Aging will offer a daily program of entertainment for seniors and their families, as well as information about other state services and programs available to them. Another annual feature is a drawing for two, free round-trip tickets anywhere that Southwest Airlines flies, donated by the airline.

Senior Day, Monday, Aug. 15, will feature a full schedule of entertainment on stage, featuring talent from communities throughout the state.

Following its tradition, the Department will also emphasize health and wellness in special programs and information that include checks for cholesterol, skin cancer, stroke, overactive bladder, height and weight, arthritis, blood pressure, blood sugar, body composition and pulmonary function.

"We are offering a full menu: bingo, music, nostalgia, education and health check-ups. We even offer lemonade and popcorn," Johnson said.

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